Monday, June 25, 2007

Counter Culture

A simple mall run for new face powder turned into a social experiment when my sister Krissy informed me that scandalous sluts wear MAC. Until that moment makeup was nothing more then something I slapped on my face a few times a week to cover a zit or create the illusion of having an upper lip. Makeup choice was often dictated by what a friend was wearing or who was having a bonus week at Macy*s. It was distressing to think of all the potential messages sent simply by applying makeup from the sleek black MAC packaging.

Being the geeks that we are, we conducted an unscientific cultural anthropology experiment in Bloomingdales and Macy*s, analyzing those behind the counters and those purchasing products at the various makeup booths. Our goal of the study; to determine what makeup we should buy, based on how our personalities and backgrounds fit the counter’s profile. Though our studies were limited, our findings had a significant impact on our personal buying behavior; we both made purchases from a new company.

It is no coincidence that people of similar backgrounds end up purchasing from the same beauty counters; companies hire advertising and marketing firms to ensure the right messages are being delivered to aim for distinctive target markets. Most of these makeup companies are owned by the same parent company and the formulas of the merchandise is essentially the same, the difference is in the packaging and marketing to deliver products to a broader number of people.

The results of our study are not intended to offend, and are based solely upon our visual analysis of individuals in the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, Long Island. Neither of us has a marketing degree, so analysis as to whether advertising is being delivered effectively to the proper market was out of scope for the purposes of this experiment.

-Study Results-
Blushing Beauties:
The category consists of brands primarily worn by those 25 and younger.
Stila: Tweens with money to spend. Tweens without money just hit the drug store and pick up cover girl or Wet N’ Wild.
Clinique: Think purity. Think prudes.
Elizabeth Arden: Clinique grows up.

Earth friendly brands and formulas aimed at those with sensitive skin who are older then the blushing beauties.
Biotherm: Naturally beautiful people who want that look like they are not wearing any makeup or those who really embrace the science and technology around skincare.
Clarins: Naturally beautiful people who want that look like they are not wearing any makeup or those who really embrace the science and technology around skincare and have money or love all things European.
Origins: In touch with the earth hippies and tree-huggers who are one step away from giving up makeup and embracing the au natural look.
Bare Escentuals: Corporate women who eat co-workers by day, organic vegetables at night and swear by Yoga.
Benefit: Redheads with freckles.
Prescriptives: Cross spectrum of individuals wanting to get an exact color match and are drawn to the brightly colored beakers and vials on display.

High Brows:
Major target market of makeup companies, baby boomers and early Gen X-ers, looking for their fountain of youth.
Bobbi Brown: Older women fighting the signs of aging through changes in makeup colors and styles, not surgery.
Estée Lauder: Conducting this test on Long Island, the counter was dominated by “North Shore Ladies.” Other areas have their equivalents; Minnesota has Edina, Illinois the Gold and Virginia it is McLean. Ladies who lunch and “play” tennis.
Christian Dior: High powered women, younger then 40 who are advancing quickly in their careers and carry Kate Spade purses.
Lancôme: High maintenance women who are still shopping for the perfect plastic surgeon and carry Louis Vitton; future Chanel users.
Chanel: Heavy users of foundation unable to crack a smile due to plastic surgery.
Yves Saint Laurent: Women who graduated from Chanel due to advancing age, stature or several more rounds of plastic surgery.

Blue Jobs:
Makeup for those who like lots of color and attention.
MAC: Sluts and homosexuals.
Shiseido: High class sluts and homosexuals or Asian women looking for bold eye colors.

After this extensive research, my face powder and blush were replaced by the much more appropriate Prescriptives brand to match my skin that is too light for fair, too dark for tan and attached to a body and brain with ADD who likes the bright colors in the display. I was considering Christian Dior, however, my skin, both physically and metaphorically, might not be thick enough for makeup with that much zing. Nothing, however, is coming between me and my MAC lipstick, I have to let my inner slut out sometime!


Amy said...

I really like to think my love of MAC cosmetics comes from me maybe being a little naughty on the inside, so I'm allowed to express it on the outside every once in awhile. :) Granted, I don't wear most of their crazy stuff every day, but I do own some of it.

What adds another dimension to your research is the fact that Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Estee Lauder, MAC, Origins, Prescriptives, and Stila are all owned by the Estee Lauder family of companies. (

explosivebombchelle said...

I'm glad you went to look that up. Only a handful of companies dominate the industry, but to market to different segments of the population it is necessary to have all these brands.

And I too have the little naughty side. I love MAC Amplified lipstick too much to ever give it up, although my cabinets have become dominated by H2O+ stuff these days.

And not mentioned is the drugstore Maybelline Great Lash mascara that beats any expensive department store brand!